Snow Shoeing with a Camera (and a hangover)

And I mean a hangover. My head was the floor of the busiest airport in the world during tourist season, a train pulling into the busiest station in the world during rush hour. The Titanic sinking…twice. But this was the first day I had to get out into our freshly fallen white stuff and get some images of all that beauty you don’t find in places where they plop down malls and traffic signs.

Took a while to get the snow shoes on. Not used to things with cantilevers on my feet. Not used to having to bend down when my personal sense of direction is still trying to scrape itself off the floor of the busiest airport in the world. Fucking gravity.

But I finally got them on without doing facedown angels in the snow and headed into the woods.

Had to cross an open field that would be a marsh area in every season but winter. Winter-hater that I used to be, now converted to snow and scentless air, I had to admit, there’s something mesmerizing about large patches of snow framed by hibernating plant life. Patterns become more pronounced. Contrasts flare up all around you. All the beauty is stripped down to structure…the essence of the beauty we see in summer.

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Found some deer tracks leading into the woods and followed them. Learned something here: when venturing into the woods when the plants have no cushioning leaves…where sunglasses. This was an ouch lesson.

Followed the tracks into the woods and every step was magic unleashed. How could I have gotten so far away from all this beauty that I loved as a kid?

Oh…right…six years in Winnipeg.

Here’s what I saw in the woods:

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Best of all…this giant spider web:

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How terrifyingly big was that spider? Fortunately, spiders, unlike foxes, hibernate. At this point, I stopped and did the poetry thing. I took a poem out of my pocket, one that I wrote in college 150 years ago…my way of saying thanks for all the beauty to the woods, even though it wasn’t the most beautiful of poems, but the woods appreciate being read to.

“That’s right,” said the woods. “We like poetry. Let’s hear what you wrote 150 years ago.”

So I read:

night

so weak is the spell of suggestion
between these carefully projected walls

aligned
straight

with just enough trees and shrubbery
to ward off the slightest amusing danger
the twig snaps from dryness only

there’s no comfort in the tungsten and sodium glow
of too many windows and too many street lights
illuminating this corridor just enough
to show its bare affinity with the stars

and if I were to suddenly scream
IT’S A GODDAMNED SHAME
would they rush out here and feel
the fluctuations of whatever dark is left
the tense grip of breath
the bristle of fur
as legions of magic bubbles shake in the shadows
or would they just stare from their windows
annoyed
fearful
blind
to the asphalt and concrete girdle
choking the guts out of night

“Not much of an optimist, are you, Biff?” said the woods.

“I’m learning,” I said.

On the way back, I got this image:

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Lesson learned: Take a happy happy joy joy poem into the woods. And return the beauty.

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